Understanding Miscommunication eventually results in role conflict within

Understanding how to manage conflict is an essential skill
for everyday life. There will always be circumstances where we have differences
with other’s views, values, assumptions, etc. How we can express ourselves in
those circumstances is crucial in creating an atmosphere where relationships
can mature. When conflict arises, there are two options: deal with it in a
positive way and have it become constructive, or deal with it in a negative way
and have it become destructive. Understanding the differences ensures that our
opinions will be heard and that we are open to listening to other’s opinions. In
this paper, we will be analyzing the conflict and resolution between the jurors
in 12 Angry Men. The following
paragraphs will be discussing the source of conflict among the jurors, the
strategies to manage conflict, and how the Contact Theory applies to the
conflict resolution. We will be using examples from the movie to apply the
concepts that we have been learning in this course dealing with conflict and
conflict resolution within groups.  

Source
of Conflict

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            In 12 Angry Men, we find eleven men of the jury persuaded by their
past experiences and prejudices. They are challenged by one man, the 8th
Juror, who demands that they hold themselves to a higher standard and give the
defendant a fair fight. The process of discussing their reasoning leads to the conformity
of some group members. Miscommunication eventually results in role conflict
within the members and the jurors struggle between their conflicting purposes
of punishing those that are guilty and protecting those that are innocent.

            In the
American criminal system, those that are charged with crimes have to be proven
to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt. It is up to the jury to make the decision
on what this exactly means and how it pertains to the case. After much
discussion, the 8th Juror was able to put doubt into the minds of
the other members and challenge the evidence to show that they could not be
confident enough to place conviction causing conflict between the members.

            Another source
of conflict within the film comes from America’s foundation of diversity within
cultures, beliefs and temperaments. The jury is comprised of members from a male
nurse at a Harlem hospital, who grew up in the slums, 5th Juror, to
a German immigrant watchmaker, 11th Juror, to a stock broker, 4th
Juror. These twelve men represent the range of diversity that make up America and
the challenges that come with it. The clash between cultures becomes a major
part of conflict within the movie. Finding ways to work together and reach a
common goal was just as important as reaching a unanimous verdict. At first
this task seems impossible, but as the film goes on they slowly learn to work
through their problems with discussions and active listening.

Strategies
and Analysis of Conflict Resolution

            Throughout the film, we see numerous
strategies used by all of the jury members to communicate their beliefs.  One of the first strategies that we see when
the jurors get together is making a decision by consensus to take a vote to
determine a guilty or not guilty verdict. The outcome of the vote was an 11-1
ratio which brings us to the next strategy, forcing, that we learned in our
text. Forcing is when the goal is very important but the relationship is not,
you seek to achieve your goal by forcing or persuading the other to yield
(Johnson & Johnson, 2013, pg. 357). In the case of the 8th Juror,
the conflict begins when he is the first to disagree with the other jurors’
vote of not guilty. The members compromise and agree to stay for at least one
hour. The 12th Juror then suggests that the eleven members who voted
guilty should convince the 8th Juror to change his vote.

At this stage, most members were simply worried about
getting home and they didn’t think it was imperative to look at evidence again.
Using forcing or win-lose negotiations,

 tactics used to
persuade the other to yield include presenting persuasive arguments, imposing a
deadline committing oneself to an “unalterable” position, or making demands
that far exceed what is actually acceptable (Johnson & Johnson, 2013, pg.
357).

            The 8th
Juror acted as though he was a justice representative and brought to the court
the concept of reasonable doubt. The 8th Juror could not find the
defendant guilty until he analyzed the evidence and testimonies presented in
the case. He argued that he wanted to find the truth before he could make a
decision about the case. His views caused a lot of stress among the jurors
because he made them look at the details and question the validity of the
evidence. At that time, the jury was able to look at issues more clearly and
began to understand that their goal was to find a verdict by discussing all of
the facts and making a decision about the case. Through the analyzation of the
evidence the jury members begin to learn how to examine the facts without
stereotyping the individuals in the case except for the 3rd and 10th
Juror.

            There are
many significant views and values that are represented in 12 Angry Men, most important one being that prejudice affects people’s
judgement. When discussing if the defendant is guilty of stabbing his father
one juror says, “It is very hard to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like
this.” The 3rd and 10th Juror make their case by bringing
their prejudice against people that are young and who are from the slums
without even considering the other facts of the case. Letting their prejudice
guide their decisions proved to be an ineffective way of resolving the conflict
of deciding a verdict.

            As the film
progresses we see a shift between how people come to their decisions and how
the psychologies of each member interact in a complex manner. Earlier, it was
clear that the group as a whole was against the 8th Juror and had
the same logic of convincing him to change his vote. However, as the film goes
on, we see that the other Jurors begin to change their decisions based on
different reasoning.

            The 2nd
Juror seems to have been motivated to change his decision simply by the tone of
the courtroom, which is reflective of his character that is possibly
susceptible to group influence. The 3rd Juror’s opinion is seemed to
be influenced by his poor relationship with his son and the 4th Juror
is solely reliant on facts presented. We begin to see the group psychology
break down into the individual psychology. At the beginning, the group of
eleven men found it east to convict him jointly. But it becomes harder for them
to do so when their individual beliefs and motivations are brought to the
forefront.